E is for Extrovert: Parenting an outgoing child

Oct 10, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. ET

If your child is an extrovert — super social, talkative, craves high-engagement play — a little insight into how he sees the world will help you know what he needs from you.

Is your child an extrovert?

Just like adults, your child will likely display both introvert and extrovert traits — dependent on the situation. However, a child whose personality leans toward extroverted might exhibit more of these qualities:

  • Craves interaction
  • Loves to talk — often
  • Thrives on stimulation
  • Seeks out social situations
  • Outgoing, even assertive

Battling boredom

Because extroverts tend to crave activity, attention and engagement, they can become bored easily in the absence of people to connect with or something to really focus their energy on. With that in mind, consider activities that will help your little one thrive:

  • Create and perform impromptu plays or puppet shows
  • Host a living room talent show
  • Play dress-up, complete with a runway fashion show
  • Look into art classes, dance classes or team sports
  • Find free-play activities that allow for opportunities to socialize without the restrictions of a structured class, like the park, a water fountain/splash pad at a local outdoor mall, etc.

Your little talking machine

If you parent an extrovert you’ll likely find that he needs to talk... often. Just like introverts need quiet time to absorb and take in everything around them, extroverts process by talking through what they’re thinking and experiencing. If you happen to be of the introvert persuasion and value quiet time, or find that all of the talking can sometimes wear on your patience, there are things you can do to help your child direct her inner Chatty Cathy:

  • Give him a creative outlet (something other than your ear) so he can channel all that talking into fun activities. Let him record videos of himself with a video camera, or have him record audio files of himself talking, singing or story-telling into your iPhone, or even a tape recorder.
  • Invite her to read out loud to her siblings.
  • Create opportunities for him to share about his day, whether it’s a sit-down over a snack when you pick him up from school, or every night at the dinner table.
  • Help her learn a little restraint by taking opportunities to reinforce concepts like taking turns. While she might want to blurt out her thoughts over everyone else who’s in the conversation, remind her that she’ll absolutely have her turn to speak and that she just needs to hold on to that thought until it’s her turn to share.

Encouraging your extrovert

While no child is one-size-fits-all, and no personality type suits everyone perfectly, there are a few things you can do to give your little extrovert what she craves:

  • Acknowledge that she needs to talk, and understand that’s what makes her tick. Thinking aloud while she talks through things helps her comprehend concepts and problem-solve.
  • Get down on his level and give him your full attention when you play: Build with him, craft with him, engage with him in a genuine give and take.
  • Know that for extroverts it goes beyond just enjoying being around people — that’s what they draw their energy from. While introverts might need alone time to recharge, or feel drained after being around large crowds, extroverted children are energized by connecting with people and can get drained (and cranky) by feeling alone and bored.
  • Don’t pigeonhole him just because he leans toward a certain personality type. While your little one might get bored faster being alone than an introvert might, it doesn't mean he's not capable of it. He won’t always have a playmate or an ear to bend, so give him opportunities to enjoy a little down time, too.

Read more on child personalities

How to temper your Type-A parenting style
Raising an independent baby
Your child's birthstone and personality